A Guide to the Ontario Business Registry

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Ontario Business Registry
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So you’ve decided to start a business in Ontario. Congratulations! That’s an exciting step. But before you dive into developing your business plan or scoping out office space, you need to officially register your business. The Ontario Business Registry makes the registration process straightforward, but there are still a few steps you’ll need to take to make your business legit in the eyes of the government. This guide will walk you through registering your business with the Ontario Business Registry, from reserving your business name to filing annual reports. By the end, you’ll have a registered business number and be ready to operate. The registration process won’t take too long, but it is an important foundational step. Let’s get started!

What Is the Ontario Business Registry?

The Ontario Business Registry is where businesses register in the province of Ontario, Canada.

To legally operate a business in Ontario, you need to register it with the Ontario Business Registry. This official registry allows the government to keep track of all businesses in the province. Registering your business is also required to obtain licenses and permits to operate.

When you register your business, you’ll provide details like the business name, ownership, and contact information. The registry will then issue a business registration number you’ll use on all your official documents.

Registering a business in Ontario is typically straightforward. You can register online through the Ontario Business Registry website. The basic registration fee is $60. The entire process usually takes around 15-20 minutes if you have all your information ready.

Once registered, you must renew your business registration every year to keep it valid. The renewal fee is $60 per year. Failing to renew your registration can result in penalties and affect your ability to operate legally.

The Ontario Business Registry gives people a centralized place to find information on registered businesses across the province. For business owners, maintaining an active registry listing demonstrates your legitimacy and commitment to operating legally. Overall, the registry benefits both businesses and consumers in Ontario.

Registering and maintaining your listing in the Ontario Business Registry is an important responsibility. Do your part to keep the registry up to date and support an open, transparent business environment in Ontario.

Why Register Your Business With the Ontario Business Registry?

Registering your business with the Ontario Business Registry (OBR) is important for several reasons:

Official Recognition

Registering your business legally establishes it as an operating entity. This means your business can enter into contracts, open business bank accounts, hire employees, and take on business loans.

Tax Requirements

Registering your business also allows you to obtain a Business Number (BN) which is required for charging and collecting sales tax (HST) as well as payroll withholdings. Most businesses in Ontario need to register for HST if their annual taxable sales exceed $30,000.

Access to Resources

As a registered business, you’ll have access to small business support programs and incentives offered by the provincial government such as financing, training grants, mentorship opportunities, and business advisory services.

Build Your Credit

Establishing a business credit profile allows you to build business credit separate from your personal credit. This can help you access business funding and loans to grow your company. Registering your business and obtaining a BN are the first steps to building your business credit.

Protect Your Brand

Registering your business allows you to officially claim rights to your business name and obtain trademarks to protect your brand identity, logos, and slogans. This deters others from using a confusingly similar name or intellectual property.

In summary, registering your business with the OBR and obtaining a BN provides your company with legitimacy, access to resources, and brand protection. Though the registration process can seem tedious, the benefits to your new venture will make the effort worthwhile.

How to Register Your Business in Ontario

Registering your business in Ontario allows you to legally operate in the province. To register, you’ll need to set up an account on the Ontario Business Registry website and provide some key details about your business.

Create an OBR account

The first step is to create an account on the Ontario Business Registry (OBR) website. You’ll need to provide an email address, business mailing address, and choose a username and password.

Provide business information

Next, you’ll be asked to enter information like:

  • Your business name
  • Business mailing address
  • Primary contact information (your name, phone, email)
  • Business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation)
  • NAICS industry code that best describes your business

Pay the registration fee

There is a $60 registration fee for most businesses. You can pay by credit card, debit card or electronic bank transfer. Non-profit organizations are exempt from the fee.

File additional documentation (if required)

Some business structures like partnerships and corporations will need to provide additional documentation like:

  • Partnership agreement or shareholder agreement
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Initial notice/consent of directors

Make sure you have these documents prepared before starting your OBR registration.

Review and submit

Double check that all information entered is correct. Once submitted, your business registration will be processed immediately and you’ll receive confirmation of your registration details by email. Congratulations, your business is now registered and ready to operate in Ontario!

Registering with the OBR is an important first step for any new business in Ontario. Be prepared by having all necessary information and documents on hand before starting the online registration process. If you have any questions, you can contact the OBR helpline or consult the website’s comprehensive FAQ section.

After Registration – Updating Your Business Information

After you’ve registered your business, it’s important to keep your information up to date with the Ontario Business Registry. As things change with your business, you’ll need to notify them to ensure your public record is accurate and compliant.

Updating Contact Information

If you move locations or change your mailing address, phone number or email, you must update this information with the registry within 15 days. You can do this by submitting a “Notice of Change” through their website or by mailing in the required forms. Failure to update your contact details in a timely manner could result in penalties.

Amending Your Business Name

If you want to change your business name, you must officially amend it with the registry. To do this, you’ll need to submit an “Application to Amend Business Name” along with the required fee. Your new name must meet all the registry’s naming requirements and will go through an approval process before becoming officially amended. During this process, you must continue conducting business under your current registered name.

Reporting Changes in Ownership or Directors

Any major changes to business ownership, directors or officers must be reported to the registry within 15 days of the change. This includes additions or removals of officers, directors or shareholders that own more than 10% of voting shares. The required filings will depend on your business structure. Failure to report these changes can result in significant penalties.

Annual Return Filings

Most corporations and limited partnerships are required to file an annual return each year within 60-90 days of their anniversary month. Annual returns must report any changes to officers, directors or ownership in the past year. They require a filing fee and failing to submit an annual return can lead to penalties or even dissolution of your business.

Keeping your business registry information up to date is an important part of maintaining your compliance as an Ontario business. Be sure to check with the registry regularly and report any changes in a timely manner. Doing so will help avoid potential issues down the road and allow your customers and clients to stay well informed.

FAQs About the Ontario Business Registry

The Ontario Business Registry likely has some questions that come up frequently for new business owners. Here are some of the common FAQs and answers:

How do I register my business?

To register a new business in Ontario, you’ll need to set up a Business Number (BN) and Ontario Corporation Number (OC) through the Ontario Business Registry website. You’ll have to provide details about your business like the legal business name, business address, contact information, and business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation). The registry will review your application and documentation to ensure everything is in order before officially registering your business.

How much does it cost to register a business in Ontario?

Registration fees for new businesses in Ontario typically range from $60 to $300 depending on the business structure. The fees cover the cost of setting up your BN, OC number and business name registration. Corporations have the highest fees at $300 while sole proprietorships have the lowest at $60. Partnerships fall in the middle at $200. These fees are non-refundable even if your registration is not approved.

Do I need a business license or permit?

In addition to registering your business, you may need specific licenses or permits to operate depending on your industry and location. Requirements vary in each city and town. You should check with your municipal government to determine if you need a business license or permit. Failure to obtain proper licenses and permits can result in penalties and fines.

How do I close my business?

To officially close your business in Ontario, you need to cancel your BN and OC numbers through the Ontario Business Registry website. You will have to provide information like your business closure date and reason for closing. There are no fees to cancel your business registration. You should also notify any licensing boards or permit issuing authorities that your business will be closing. And don’t forget to update records with the tax authority, creditors, employees, and customers.


So there you have it, your complete guide to the Ontario Business Registry. With the right preparation, registering your business can be a straightforward process. Take it step by step, have all your documents in order, and fill out each form carefully. Before you know it, you’ll have an official business number and be ready to operate.

Starting a business is an exciting new chapter. While the registry requirements seem tedious, just remember why you’re doing this – to pursue your dreams and build something that’s your own. Stay focused on your vision and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ve got this! With hard work and determination, you’ll be open for business in no time.

The Ontario Business Registry awaits – now go get registered and start making your business goals a reality! You have so much amazing potential – can’t wait to see what you achieve. Best of luck!

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